Harnessing the Science of Persuasion

As hiring managers and business leaders, it is your responsibility to maintain a positive relationship with your employees. In order to motivate and direct employees, persuasion skills are necessary, as they exert a great influence over others. It may seem impossible to learn charisma, but persuasion is governed by basic principles that can be taught, learned and applied.

The Harvard Business Review released an article highlighting the science of persuasion. In their findings, they revealed six fundamental principles of persuasion and suggested a few ways that executives can apply them in their organizations. They firmly believe that no leader can succeed without mastering the art of persuasion. The six principles are explained in the table below.



In a business sense, these six principles can be summed up nicely. Business leaders should utilize the following applications when putting these principles to use.

  • Liking: Uncover real similarities and offer genuine purpose.
  • Reciprocity: Give what you want to receive.
  • Social Proof: Use peer power whenever it's available.
  • Consistency: Make their commitments active, public and voluntary.
  • Authority: Expose your expertise; don't assume it's self-evident.
  • Scarcity: Highlight unique benefits and exclusive information.

Although the six principles and their applications can be discussed separately, they should be applied in combination to compound their impact.

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Could Coffee Influence Behavior?

We've posted on here about how coffee could have a positive impact on employee recognition and productivity. As it turns out, further research proves that coffee (or just caffeine in general) could help further influence employee behavior.

This article on PsyBlog discussed how caffeine makes us more suceptible to persuasive messages. It discusses a study done by the University of Queensland in Australia in which a group of individuals are attempted to be persuaded about a certain topic. Amongst that group, before the attempted persuasion, half of the participants had a caffeine pill and the others took a placebo. The results of this double-blind study? Participants "under the influence" of caffeine were more persuaded than ones who weren't.

Could these findings be applied to the workplace? Our previous post on caffeine/coffee consumption looked at providing coffee to employees as a perk or an incentive for working hard at your company. However, the benefit could prove to be mutual. The effects of caffeine consumption include increased awareness, brain arousal and a sharper attention span. According to PsyBlog, the reason most messages pass us by is because we aren't attentive enough to pay any attention to them. However, with the increased stimulation from caffeine, we are able to process those messages more thoroughly which in turn makes us increasingly likely to be influenced.

With that in mind, think about your employees. Are you trying to communicate a message with them? Attempting to influence their behavior and attitudes in one form or another? Sometimes persuasion is best served with a hot cup of joe.

What do you think?´╗┐

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